SHAFAQNA – Dr Mohammed Haidar & Jalal Fairouz
To understand Bahrain and the drawn-out struggles Bahrainis continue to endure as they strive to achieve political independence and social justice one needs to contextualise Bahrain’s political history and the influence colonialism had in shaping Bahrain’s political identity, and ultimately the inequalities that have plagued its society.
It is important to note that historically speaking al-Khalifa – whose accession to the throne was made possible under the sponsorship of imperial Britain, the indigenous Baharna population always suffered state-sponsored brutality.
Post-independence, as British control diminished, al-Khalifa slowly fell under the spell of Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, thus exacerbating tensions vis a vis various religious communities.
Bahrain’s independence and subsequent recolonisation by Saudi Arabia have had an enabling effect. That, coupled with the Iran-Iraq war seemed to result in a ‘culture of revenge’, whereby the Al Khalifa regime, untempered by restraint and galvanised by Saudi reactionism, reasserted their feudal dominance over the indigenous Baharna population. With the Saudis conducting the type of imperial intervention previously reserved for the British, the latter have undertaken a more surreptitious, neo-colonial form of influence. The British, for their part, are happy to supply weapons, police training, PR, and crucially, legitimacy in the eyes of the international community to the Bahraini regime.
As Rosemary Hollis said, the British went out the door and came in through the window.